RV repairs can be expensive, taking money away from your travel budget. Frugal RVers know that keeping simple maintenance records can reduce the need for repairs and reduce the costs of travel. Here are my tips for RV maintnenance for safety and economy.
RV Maintenance Log
Every RVer should have a Frugal RV Notebook or RV Log. It’s a blank book you can keep in the glove box or a trailer cabinet. If you are an RV renter, it’s a handy place to record your experiences with specific rigs and driving conditions. Your Frugal RV Notebook is a good location to make notes on purchases, maintenance reminders, and other travel events. Record equipment issues as or soon after they occur. Review your latest notes as part of your pre-trip inspection and post-trip review to determine if there is anything that should keep you home until resolved. In between trips, do a little more research to see if the notation is something you can fix or it needs a mechanic. Use the notebook to record tire sizes and pressures, part numbers, vendors, costs and anything else that will help you maintain your recreational vehicle as safe and ready to travel.
Whether you’re driving a motorhome or towing a trailer, oil is your RV engine’s blood supply. It not only keeps moving parts lubricated, it also helps keep the engine cooler by transferring some of the heat from the cylinders to the oil cooler or oil pan. Changing oil and filter – whether you do it or a mechanic does it – is a cost-effective way to keep the engine’s blood healthy. Record oil filter part numbers, weight and amount of oil needed, oil change frequency, and other specifics so you can be ready for the next oil change.
Many RVers spend about $25 extra at every oil change for an oil analysis. This can be especially helpful if your rig’s engine is older. You place an oil sample in a supplied container, mail it off, and a few weeks later get an analysis. The analysis can help you make historical comparisons to determine whether the engine is producing metals that indicate specific wear problems. Your oil change stats and other maintenance records should get recorded in your Frugal RV Notebook.
Your Frugal RV Notebook is an excellent place to keep track of your actual camping expenses. Besides recording purchases, it can be used for analysis and observation such as how much fuel you purchased last year, how much you spent on maintenances versus repairs, etc. Periodic review of your travel spending can help you get more value for your dollars – the goal of any frugal RVer. It also can help you document tax-deductible expenses for your camping, if any.
Your Frugal Notebook is also a handy location to make notes on your camping experiences. It could be a travelogue if you wish. Or it can simply be a place to record favorite campgrounds as well as places to which you wouldn’t return. Such records can help you choose places to travel in the future. (Our travel logs go back 30+ years and help us plan trips and settle arguments.) Reviewing your travel notes during the winter can help you plan your upcoming camping season better.
Keeping a Frugal RV Notebook shouldn’t be a chore. It’s an opportunity to document and review what you like about camping as well as what it takes to be safe and relaxed. It can help you make common-sense decisions toward getting good value from every camping activity and dollar. And that’s what being a frugal RVer is all about.
>>Dan Ramsey, FrugalRV.com
Travel more – spend less!